News / Middle East

US, Russia Pledge to Unblock Syria Talks

U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (L) and UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi arrive for a trilateral meeting with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov during the second round of negotiations between the Syrian g
U.S. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (L) and UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi arrive for a trilateral meeting with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov during the second round of negotiations between the Syrian g
Lisa Schlein
— The United States and Russia have pledged to help unblock stalled negotiations between Syria's two warring sides, International Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Thursday.

The U.N. mediator met for two hours Thursday with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov. 

Brahimi said he briefed the two officials in great detail about the status of the talks, which remain deadlocked after three weeks of negotiations.
 
"They have kindly reaffirmed their support for what we are trying to do and promised that they will help both here and in their capitals and elsewhere to unblock the situation for us because until now we are not making much progress in this process," he said.
 
While describing the meeting as useful, Brahimi acknowledged he does not expect any "miracles."   He said the two parties are not budging from the positions they have staked out since the start of the talks.

Government stays firm
 
Brahimi added that  the Syrian government delegation remains firm in it determination to deal with the problems of violence and terrorism. 

This runs counter to the opposition's insistence on discussing moves toward creating a transitional government in Syria.  The government dismisses this out of hand, as it broaches the idea of removing President Bashar al-Assad from power.
 
Brahimi said the negotiations are difficult and will not be resolved any time soon.  He said the objective of the talks is to put these extremely complex issues on the table as soon as possible and work toward ways of addressing them in the future.
 
Still, he said it is critical the talks move ahead speedily as the people of Syria continue to be caught in a dark tunnel with no light at the end visible.  He said the one positive development during the three weeks of negotiations has been the delivery of aid to thousands of people in Homs and the evacuation of hundreds of civilians trapped in the city.

Brahimi said he hopes the Syrian talks helped move this process along.  But, he added all credit for aid going into Homs belongs to U.N. colleagues on the ground, who negotiated the truce with government and opposition forces.
 
As for the stalled peace negotiations here in Geneva, Brahimi said he hopes for the best, but is prepared for the worst.
 
"Failure is always staring at us in the face," he said.  "As far as the United Nations is concerned, we will certainly not leave one stone unturned if there is a possibility to move forward.  If there is not, we will say so."

UN pleas on aid

Meanwhile U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos says getting aid to desperate civilians in Syria should not be matter of controversy or politics.

Amos briefed the Security Council Thursday on what she says is modest progress in getting help to civilians This includes evacuating more than 1,400 people from the city of Homs.

A brief "humanitarian pause" last week gave women, children, and old men a chance to get out.

Amos said the Homs agreement shows what can be done. But she said it cannot be a model because aid workers came under fire.

She said both sides in Syria's civil war are breaking international law by failing to protect civilians. Amos said three-million Syrians are stuck in hard to reach places and that their lives are hanging in the balance.
 
Aleppo violence

Thursday's discussions come amid reports of violence in Aleppo and along the Syrian-Lebanon border. Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that government airstrikes killed at least 51 people Wednesday in Aleppo, and that more than 230 people have been killed daily since a barrel-bomb campaign began around January 22.

Lebanon's Future TV is also reporting that 300 Syrian refugees have fled the region around Yabroud, a town along the Lebanese border, for the mostly Sunni town of Arsal inside Lebanon.
 
According to BBC and Reuters, Syrian government forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah allies are battling rebel fighters in the mountainous border region in what is being dubbed the "Battle for Qalamoun." Syrian planes have been supporting the operation, which has pushed more refugees over the border into neighboring Lebanon.
 
Locals complain that even the road out of Yabroud is now being bombed in what Riad Kahwaji of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis calls a very strategic batlle for both Damascus and Hezbollah.
 
Draft resolutions
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia is presenting two draft U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria.
 
The first is Russia's version of a resolution to bring greater humanitarian aid. Lavrov told reporters in Moscow Thursday the second addresses fighting terrorism, which the Syrian government has stressed in the peace talks so far.
 
"Facts confirming an increasing number of threats from an increasing number of terrorist groups are well-known," Lavrov said. "We are very concerned by them. That's why we presented to the Security Council — or in this particular case we've just started consultations — one more draft resolution on fighting terrorism in Syria."
 
Russia objected to a Western-Arab draft resolution on humanitarian aid as one-sided against President Bashar al-Assad's government, and said it would use its veto power to block the measure.
 
A humanitarian ceasefire in the Syrian city of Homs was extended on Thursday for three more days, the city's governor told Reuters.
 
"The ceasefire has been extended for an additional three days, starting from today, to allow the evacuation of the remaining civilians," Talal al-Barazi, the governor, said by telephone.
 
Mortar and rocket fire and sniping have repeatedly forced suspension of the operation, and al-Barazi added that a total of 1,400 people had been evacuated from the besieged Old City since last Friday, when the U.N.-brokered ceasefire began.

Images from Syria

  • Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai (left), who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, talks to Syrian refugee Mazoon Rakan, 16, about Mazoon's experience in the camp during her visit to the Zaatri refugee camp, in Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Feb. 18, 2014. 
  • A Kurdish fighter from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) carries his son as he walks along a street, Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014. 
  • A man walks near a crater as smoke rises from a burning truck after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014. 
  • Civil defense members and civilians extinguish the fire from a burning truck after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014.
  • A civil defense worker puts out a fire after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, al-Inzarat district, Aleppo, Feb. 18, 2014. 
  • Children run across a street to avoid snipers in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria Feb. 16, 2014.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, Feb. 16, 2014. 
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter rests with his weapon in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, Feb. 16, 2014. 
  • A boy holds his baby sister, who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Feb. 14, 2014.
  • Rescuers walk on the rubble of collapsed buildings after what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, Feb. 14, 2014.

Edward Yeranian, Reuters contributed to this report.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: DavidArizona85 from: Phoenix AZ
February 13, 2014 2:29 PM
There is nothing to talk about. Assad and his allies have won. He will remain the dictator and slowly crush the secular opposition. There will remain an Al Qaeda presence in the Eastern part of the country which will continue to bedevil Syria and Iraq. Thank goodness we are not in there with our young soldiers being blown to bits


by: Daniel from: Indian Ocean
February 13, 2014 8:45 AM
All of L. Brahimi's 'work' is useless. I wonder how much he's getting paid by the UN...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid